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Death Mask of Robert Anderson

  • The Cumberland Bard

Locally known as the ‘Cumbrian Bard,’ Anderson wrote songs and ballads in the North Cumbrian dialect. The death mask’s lower left side reveals that Robert Anderson had suffered a stroke. Death masks were normally only given to statesmen and aristocrats

More info

The Cumberland Bard

Robert Anderson is known as the ‘Cumberland Bard.’ He was born into a poor family in Carlisle and became an apprentice pattern-drawer at T.Losh and Co calico print works in Denton Holme. Anderson then moved to London to seek further employment after completing his apprenticeship. 

While in London Anderson wrote ‘Lucy Gray of Allendale.’ This work was critically acclaimed. In 1796 he returned to Carlisle and worked for Lamb Scott, Forster and Co, Calico Printers.

By his early thirties Robert Anderson began to write songs and ballads in the North Cumbrian dialect and in 1801 wrote ‘Betty Brown.’ Further work included a volume of ‘Cumbrian Ballads’ which received more critical acclaim.

Robert Anderson then left Carlisle and worked in a Belfast print works, but his stay in Ireland left him with drinking problems.

In 1820 Anderson returned to Carlisle but alcohol addiction left him unemployed and destitute. After a spell living in Hayton, Anderson’s old friends paid for him to live at a comfortable residence in Annetwell Street, Carlisle.

Robert Anderson died on 26th September 1833. The creation of his death mask reveals that the bard was greatly respected by his peers. Death masks were normally only given to statesmen and aristocrats. Anderson was buried in the grounds of the Cathedral and also has a memorial plaque inside the building.

Key facts: 
  • Robert Anderson is often called 'the Cumberland Bard' and produced several volumes of local Cumbrian tales and folklore written in North Cumbrian dialect
  • The Victorians sometimes created plaster death masks of notable individuals to commemotate their loss. The fact that Robert Anderson recieved this is a mark of respect from his peers

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